As it is known, the follicle-stimulating hormones produced by the pituitary gland in the brain are responsible for generating estrogen (in women) and sperm (in men), which are part of their reproductive function. While FSH levels increase with age, this cannot happen with every individual for varied reasons.
The current article seeks to undertake a brief discussion on the symptoms associated with low FSH level. That too by providing a reference range in the first place. Based on the data retrieved from there, it would be easy to comprehend what is high or low. That accord for the concerned age groups mentioned there as well. Following these, there will be identified factors that bring about low FSH levels. With suggestions to improve the same through medications or diet or both.
Normal Reference Range Of FSH Levels
As stated above, FSH levels increase according to age. This statement has well initiated the need to provide relevant information on the normal FSH levels. Also the reference range that applies to specific age groups. As such, refer to the table below that presents the same.
|Age Groups||FSH Level Reference Range|
|Before Puberty||0-4 IU/L|
|During Puberty||0.3-10 IU/L|
|33 years and/or below||Less than 7.0 mIU/mL|
|33-37 years||Less than 7.9 mIU/mL|
|38-40 years||Less than 8.4 mIU/mL|
|41 years and above||Less than 8.5 mIU/mL|
|Post-Menopause||25 to 134.8 mIU/mL|
Table 1: FSH Level Reference Range per Age Group
Since the primary function of the follicle-stimulating hormones is to regulate the menstrual cycle, these start acting before the onset of puberty, say when a girl reaches ten years. The mechanism involved here is the stimulation of the ovarian follicles. Which, in turn, results in the release of estrogen to assist in the process. In short, one can ascertain that FSH plays a vital role in ensuring a natural menstrual cycle through the function it is assigned. That is to stimulate the production of follicles, the process called ovulation to prepare a woman for her next menstrual cycle.
Difference Between High And Low FSH Levels
High FSH levels result in the brain not receiving adequate information for stopping/ceasing FSH when estradiol (the main form of estrogen) is produced in excess. Low FSH levels indicate that the ovaries are not able to release enough eggs into the uterus. Which thereby affecting the normal menstrual cycle. The main issue associated with low FSH levels is infertility. Because there are fewer eggs (follicles) to be fertilized by the sperm.
Surprisingly high FSH level do result in the same kind of symptoms mentioned above. Especially when there occurs the production of estradiol from the ova in lesser amounts. Failing to prompt the brain to stop producing FSH, thereby causing the latter to continue to generate FSH in excess. The maturing of follicles and the subsequent release of the ova do require FSH levels to be produced in adequacy. Thus brain eventually stops the generation of FSH, which explain the role of FSH in regulating the function of the reproductive organs. It also ensure a natural menstrual cycle in the event.
Symptoms Associated with Low FSH Level
Low FSH Levels cause infertility and poor ovulation in women. In men, they result in less sexual drive, and early or delayed puberty in both boys and girls. While one can acknowledge delayed puberty due to low FSH levels, the onset of early puberty in association with the same invites curiosity to a significant degree because these are linked to a variety of concerns, including thyroid disorders, an abnormal structure of the brain, exposure/s to radiation therapy, and specific genetic conditions to name a few. In addition, low FSH levels also lead to irregular periods, hot flashes, mood changes, and difficulty sleeping (Nall, 2023).
It is quintessential to note here that certain factors cause low FSH levels. We will be elaborating it in the upcoming section.
Factors Causing Low FSH Levels
The following factors have been identified to cause low FSH levels.
Hormonal Disruption: Hormonal disruption has been recognized to be a major factor contributing to low FSH levels (Nall, 2023). This happens due to the pituitary gland experiencing significant pressure, resulting in hypopituitarism.
Damage To The Pituitary Gland: Any kind of birth injury/defect is likely to exerts a great deal of impact on the pituitary gland. Children born in such conditions, are therefore, prone to have an incomplete physical development, exposing them to be diagnosed with low FSH levels. This if unaddressed or untreated, can potentially lead to delayed ovulation and menarche, the worst being no ovulation for some.
Intake Of Sex Steroids: As stated by Jabbour, the production of FSH and LH are adversely impacted by the intake of sex steroids. One of them being the drug called Inhibin, which particularly affects FSH. In addition to these, high-dose testosterone and estrogen also tend to inhibit the production of FSH and LH (luteinizing hormone).
Impaired/Improper Pituitary Gland Function: Another of those factors inhibiting FSH levels in proper amounts is the impaired or improper functioning of the pituitary gland. This in turn, can be attributed to what can be called the Kallmann Syndrome, a hereditary disorder. The second is related to polycystic ovarian syndrome, which according to SelfDecode, disrupts the growth and maturity of the ovarian follicles. Of note, women with PCOS have high serum LH levels but have low FSH.
How Can Low FSH Levels Be Addressed?
Low FSH levels impact the quality of life in both men and women. Because these affect their fertility potentials to a significant extent. Hence, addressing the same has been felt critical to either improve the follicle-stimulating hormone levels or prevent them from further lowering.
Also, medications will help improve the FSH levels, and include birth control pills and hormone replacement therapies. However, there are side effects associated with their intake. Especially with hormonal replacement therapies, such as follitropin alfa, usually prescribed by a doctor. Both men and women will likely experience headaches, nausea, and skin irritation with this drug.
Apart from drugs, specific lifestyle changes also ensure improved FSH levels. These include dietary intakes with no soy or soy derivatives. Because these are recommended only in case of high FSH levels to bring them down to desired levels/range. Also, reducing alcohol intake will improve FSH levels to stimulate ovulation and release estrogen ultimately.
In all these, however, it is important to note that the physicians addressing your low FSH levels should know the factors causing the same to work on them.
- FSH levels typically increase with age and are vital to preserving the natural menstrual cycle plus regulating the amount of estrogen released during ovulation.
- Low FSH levels hamper the ability of women to ovulate, thereby impacting their reproductive health.
- Decreased FSH levels more or less carry the same impact on both men and women.
- Symptoms associated with low FSH level mostly include infertility secondary to poor ovum and testosterone production in women and men respectively. Also not to exclude low sexual drive, and early or late puberty in both these genders.
- Factors contributing to low-level FSH have been identified. It include hormonal disruption, pituitary gland damage, sex steroid ingestion, and improper pituitary gland function.
- Medicines and lifestyle changes for improving FSH levels include both birth control pills and hormone replacement therapies. Though dietary intake avoiding soy or soy-related products will be beneficial.